Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge

Luxe does it right from beginning to end
The Gordon Square Arts District is growing with shops, galleries and of course restaurants.  One that stands out is Luxe Kitchen & Lounge.  Once you walk in you can’t help but notice the sleek contemporary design, but also with a touch of an eclectic feel.  The former site of a bank, its vault contains a large assortment of wines including Luxe’s own house wines.

Starting with one of their signature flavor infused drink is a must.  Pyrrhos is Tequila, blackberry puree, hot pepper essence, lime juice & simple syrup has a wonderful kick.  For something very refreshing the Bloom is citrus vodka/lavender lemonade topped w/ blueberry puree.  The Apollo is a twist on a classic Manhattan, Pecan infused bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a dash of cherry puree.

Kale Salad
Remember that sharing is a good quality; this is never truer when dining at Luxe.  We started with Fried Veal Stuffed Olives.  These green queen olives are stuffed with a seasoned ground veal mixture, breaded then fried to a golden brown with house marinara for dipping.  For this diner who’s not a big fan of olives, I found a new taste that I fell in love with.  Fried Brussels Sprouts is a dish many turn their nose at, but trust me don’t pass this up.  Deep-fried until the outer leafs are crisp, then finished with capers and citrus-soy-shallot vinaigrette.  Delicious!
Stuffed Risotto Balls

The Kale Salad was not only intriguing, but refreshing.  Black Tuscan kale topped with ricotta salata, shaved toasted almonds, with apple cider reduction and fresh grapefruit juice.  I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed a wonderful flavor. Next we experienced one of the unique “shared plates” from the menu.  Arancini Arrabiata is Gruyere cheese-stuffed risotto balls, fried golden brown with a spicy tomato sauce.  Absolutely a dish I want to experience again.

Potato Gnocchi
On to “The People’s Choice Award Winning” from St. John Medical Centers Top Chef Competition, the Potato Gnocchi.  Handmade potato gnocchi with braised short ribs, wild mushrooms, spinach and topped with a heavenly blue cheese cream sauce.  Do I really need to say anything else?  Well yes, this dish has been on my mind since the first bite.  I’m anxious to return with my friends and family just to see the expression on their faces as they partake in this award winning dish.

House Ho Ho
We finished dinner with two desserts, a trio of Crème Brulee and the House Ho Ho.  The Brulee was caramel, coffee and vanilla all delightfully creamy with that wonderful sugar crust atop.  The House Ho Ho takes you back to your childhood and then some.  It’s delicate chocolate cake and white cream is a real winner.  Chef Dallas Martinez’s passion for food during the time I was speaking with him came through loud and clear. Whether you dine indoors or enjoy their huge patio and outdoor bar, I invite you to make your way to Gordon Square and enjoy a true dining experience at the Luxe Kitchen & Lounge.

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge
6605 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 920-0600
Happy hour M-F 5pm until 7pm
Open Mon-Sat @5pm
Sunday Brunch 10-3 Dinner 3-9                 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Oriole Café

Fly into The Oriole Café
Click on images for larger view
There’s nothing like a great neighborhood bar with outstanding food and nothing could be closer to that reality than at The Oriole Café.  Near the corner of North Rocky River Dr. and Bagley Rd. sits this rustic looking establishment in Berea.  Upon walking in your eyes are immediately drawn to the walls, which are adorned with dozens of pictures and photographs.  From Cleveland to National sports figures, local and Northeast Ohio landmarks can make you feel rather nostalgic.

Italian Sausage Egg Rolls
Let’s get started with appetizers.  The Italian Sausage Egg Rolls are GREAT!!  Crumbled Italian sausage combined with a three-cheese mixture then wrapped in egg rolls and fried to a crispy texture.  You can order 2-$3.95 or 4-$7.95, but order 4 and share.  These unique tasty morsels have become one of my all time favorite snacks-- reason alone for my next visit.  Next is the Hand cut Zucchini Planks ($5.95).  Tempura dipped zucchini planks are fried to a golden brown and served with ranch sauce, simply outstanding.  This has been my go to appetizer since my first visit many years ago.  This is a great way to get more vegetables in your diet; it’s one of their most popular items.

BBQ Club Burger
Known for their burgers, we ordered the BBQ Club Burger ($8.45).  Ordered medium rare, it was served just as we asked.  Served on a fresh bun with cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce on the side, what a way to satisfy any appetite.  Credit the Oriole Café for purchasing their meats from Gibb’s Butcher Block of Columbia Station.  It’s fresh never frozen ground meat and you can certainly tell by the wonderful taste of the beef.

Lets move on to some entrees.  The Oriole Café chef, Mark, creates meals you’d expect from a fine dining establishment.  The Grilled Pork Chops ($7.95) are perfectly grilled and nicely moist, served with potato and vegetable.  How can you not like Blackened Salmon when it's prepared like this.  Dusted with just the right amount of Cajun spices and then seared to a crispy outside and moist inside. 

Blackened Salmon
The owner, Bob Visnic offers another surprise making the Oriole Café standout, a $5.00 lunch menu full of assorted fresh meals, a perfect value. Other specials include a Basket of Bones ($7.99) with 5 meaty St. Louis cut pork ribs.  Every Friday and Saturday they have steamed crab legs available.  Every Monday it’s Chicken Paprikash “the way Grandma made it”.  Hand cut Prime Rib every Saturday and lightly breaded Yellow Lake Perch all day, every Friday.  Let’s not forget the perfect accompaniment to a cold one… 20¢ wings from mild to atomic or homemade chili.

A few special items to keep in mind:
Monday; $4.95 Sirloin Steaks
Tuesday; 2 for 1 Tacos & Gyros
Wednesday; ½ Price Burgers
Friday; Lake Erie Perch
Saturday; Snow Crab Legs and Prime Rib
Every day; Happy Hour from 3 – 8

From the friendly service and sophisticated menu to the hometown clientele, your first visit to the Oriole Café certainly won’t be your last.

The Oriole Café
294 N. Rocky River Drive
Berea, Ohio  44017